SXSW FILM 2013
By Dave Campbell | March 14, 2013
Director: Destin Cretton
Writer: Destin Cretton
Starring: Brie Larson, John Gallagher Jr., Kaitlyn Dever, Keith Stanfield, Rami Malek
Grace (Brie Larson), is a twenty-something counselor at Short Term 12; a safe-place foster center for at-risk adolescent and teenage children. Along with her boyfriend Mason (John Gallagher Jr.) and the other young adult staff members, they establish a place of love and structure for children who otherwise would be completely without. While working with the kids on their issues, the layers are also pealed back on Grace as her and Mason face mature decisions that will affect their future together. The complexities of Grace’s childhood become clear as she learns that her father is about to be released from prison. At the same time her focus is drawn to a troubled new intake that mirrors her guarded childhood, adding perspective to her past, present, and future decisions.
Simply put, this film is beautiful. It touches on many emotional boundaries that lie deep within its characters as their evolving lives converge. Writer/Director, Destin Cretton’s (I Am Not a Hipster) remarkable direction matches his equally profound dialogue to create something truly great. Brie Larson (United States of Tara, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, 21 Jump Street) has given her breakout performance, and once Short Term 12 receives distribution she will be (or at least should be) on everyone’s shortlist come award season. John Gallagher Jr. who can currently be seen on HBO’s The Newsroom, also strikes an outstanding performance to complement his onscreen better half with undeniable chemistry between the two. Add the comparable performances from the supporting cast to complete the natural relationships our characters share on screen, and the elements align for a narrative that is as entertaining as it is moving.
Physical and physiological marks might be left on the characters within this film, but the marks of honesty, humor, and sincerity bring a well rounded and authentic human experience that will be felt by the viewer. With writing, talent, and production value this great, Sony Pictures Classics, Fox Searchlight, Paramount Vantage, Warner Independent, The Weinstein Company, and the like, better be fighting over this film tooth and nail. SXSW Film isn’t over for a few more days, but I’m willing to say now that Short Term 12 is the best of the festival. It’s just that good.
*2013 SXSW FILM FESTIVAL AUDIENCE AWARD – NARRATIVE FEATURE WINNER*
*2013 SXSW FILM FESTIVAL GRAND JURY PRIZE – NARRATIVE FEATURE WINNER*
Also see Linc Leifeste’s 9.5/10 review.